WASHINGTON — The White House counsel decided Monday that presidential aide Michael K. Deaver and other officials did not act illegally or unethically in buying luxury foreign cars abroad at a discount, but he banned similar deals in the future.
White House spokesman Larry Speakes said that the counsel, Fred F. Fielding, found there was "nothing per se illegal or unethical in the practice" of giving discounts to persons holding diplomatic passports.
"These discounts are not regarded as a gift as long as they are available to all employees," Speakes said. At the same time, he reported that Fielding was circulating a memo that bars such purchases at a discount by White House officials who are traveling on government business and in a foreign country for less than 30 days.
Deaver, the deputy White House chief of staff, was in West Germany last month preparing for President Reagan's 10-day trip to Europe planned for early May. Deaver, three members of the White House staff, two Secret Service agents and three U.S. Embassy personnel abroad bought nine luxury BMWs at a discount estimated at between 15% and 25%.
Speakes refused to make public Fielding's memorandum, saying that it was an "internal" document, nor would he name the other staff members who bought the cars.